The Right To Not Be in Pain 

The Right To Not Be in Pain 
Posted by CN Staff on January 16, 2003 at 10:13:10 PT
By Alexander Cockburn - Creators Syndicate 
Source: Creators Syndicate 
Since the bottom line here is terrible physical pain, let's start with someone who has spent most of her life in that condition. There are millions like her. Patricia C. is 47 today and lives in California. At the age of 12 she developed scoliosis, and 16 years later, her doctors told her she had the neck and spine of an 80-year-old. A car crash in 1998 left her with additional spinal trauma and a brain injury. Her whole life revolved around pain. She had no appetite, was sunk in depression and prayed to God to release her from her torment. 
It's not as though medical marijuana shifted Patricia to a bed of roses. "A lot of the time," Patricia C. said recently, "I have to take far more medicine for my body -- for the pain, the nausea and muscle spasms -- than my brain can handle. I wake up every night in pain. I get up every morning in pain." But, as she says, "Today, I am in relatively good spirits, primarily because of my daily use of medical marijuana, which I find an absolute godsend. I can use it daily. It isn't addictive, and it isn't detrimental to my health." Patricia holds card number 34 in her local cannabis buyers' club. She was one of the earliest beneficiaries of the Compassionate Use Act, passed by the body politic of California in 1996. Later this month, on Jan. 22, in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the competing desires of the body politic of California and the U.S. federal government will meet before a jury, in a clash that could plunge Patricia and all the millions of others in chronic pain back into all the agonies they once endured. It could send also send a legendary figure, Ed Rosenthal, to prison for 20 years. It's 1996. The people of California approve the Compassionate Use Act, otherwise known as Proposition 215. Marijuana can be used on a doctor's recommendation or prescription to help people in medical need. To implement 215 the city of Oakland promptly enacts its own ordinance and resolutions. It designates the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Club as an actual agent of the city of Oakland to carry out policy. OCBC in turn extends its authority to Ed Rosenthal to empower him to provide medical cannabis. Rosenthal, 58 and author of such books as the "Marijuana Growers Handbook," "Marijuana, the Law and You" and the "Marijuana Medical Handbook," is the world's foremost authority on growing marijuana. He helps people who need marijuana by supplying starts for them, since growing the plants from cuttings and sorting out the desired female starts requires aptitude, which Rosenthal, a Bronx, N.Y., boy, has. "We had a wonderful program at the Bronx Botanical Garden," he tells me, "and I gardened under their auspices." A couple of years after passage of California's Compassionate Use Act, the feds move to permanently enjoin the OCBC from dispensing medical cannabis. The Department of Justice (DOJ) launches a civil proceeding in San Francisco, where U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, a Clinton appointee, duly allows the injunction. The 9th circuit reverses him. Then the U.S. Supreme Court, with Justice Stephen Breyer recusing himself by dint of his fraternal connection, hears oral argument. There are some interesting exchanges. Isn't it true, Justice David Souter asks the DOJ attorney, that the only reason you brought this case civilly is because you know you can't get a jury to convict? In May of 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the injunction and rules that medical necessity is not a defense under the Controlled Substances Act. Federal law vanquishes state law. Now, this was a civil, not a criminal action. Those enjoined could be held in contempt and suffer monetary sanction. The consensus of opinion around the medical marijuana community is that criminal penalties have fallen by the way. It was scarcely coincidence that Feb. 12, 2002, was the day when search warrants were executed and Rosenthal was arrested. Asa Hutchinson was the newly sworn-in head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). "I just get the feeling," says Robert Eye, Rosenthal's lead attorney, "that Ed was supposed to be the trophy, the opening shot fired by Hutchinson to show the DEA's primacy." Hutchinson came into San Francisco, spoke at the Commonwealth Club, expecting that on announcing that Ed had been arrested the crowd would be supportive, and instead he got booed. Sometime not too long after, Hutchinson announced that the U.S. government would not go after individual users of medical marijuana. That was a blink, because individual possession of cannabis under fed law 21 U.S.C. sec. 841 is a crime. Even Hutchinson conceded that because of the unique circumstances in California, and because of customs and practices in that area, that DEA pursuit of medical cannabis was not feasible. But it does represent a slippage and more ambiguity about what Ed Rosenthal and others like him are supposed to do. But meanwhile, the full weight of the U.S. Department of Justice, the DEA, not to mention the far from dispassionate Judge Breyer (like most of those set upon the federal bench, more prosecutor than judge), bears down on Ed Rosenthal, with a jury of his peers being the arbiters of his fate. "This is a tipping point case," Rosenthal tells me. "If they bust me, they are going to start closing these clubs. The clubs will have no excuse. Everyone will have to plead out." A last word from Eye: "When states and feds can't come to consensus on what a policy should be, it doesn't hurt the officials and policy makers. It's individual citizens who pay the price. Rosenthal is charged with cultivating marijuana, maintaining a place to cultivate marijuana and conspiring with others to cultivate marijuana. He's looking at the possibility of life. It's right there in the indictment on the penalty page." Article appeared on Source: Creators Syndicate Author: Alexander Cockburn - Creators Syndicate Published: January 16, 2003Copyright: 2003 Creators SyndicateContact: info Website: Related Articles & Web Site:Medicinal Cannabis Research Links Issues, City Law Disallowed in Pot Trial Stage of Trial for Ed Rosenthal Underway of Jury in Pot Case Moved Up
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Comment #5 posted by greek_philosophizer on January 17, 2003 at 03:01:46 PT:
4 atrocities
Four atrocities in one story:1) A Human Being with MS.2) A government which acknowledges the usefulness
  of a medicine but does not help supply it.3) Taking significant risks in an attempt to get
  your medicine.4) Paying 300 dollars for a small baggie of
  the flowers of an easily grown weed.Then there are the atrocities being
inflicted upon Ed Rosenthal by a federal 
government making a federal case out of 
something with no federal importance.Quite a story.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on January 16, 2003 at 20:24:13 PT
Important E-Mail News Update
We are calling on all east bay patients and supporters to come to the trial of Ed Rosenthal next Tuesday the 21st, and to meet at either the OCBC by Oakland 19th st BART or Ashby BART at 7 am to arrive together to Civic Ctr and process up to the Federal Bldg. We are especially encouraging patients in wheelchairs to come and pack out the courtroom. (with over 5 or so so they have to move us to a bigger room - which would have quite an impact on onlookers). If you need transport to get to the BART or have other special needs, please call us at 510-486-8083. I have included info on why this case is so important below for those who are getting this for the first time.Thanks, and see you Tuesday!Hilary McQuie Americans for Safe Access"A Call to Arms" to support Ed Rosenthal in his trial and tribulations.The jury has been selected for what is arguably the most important medical marijuana trial in the federal criminal courts today.Ed Rosenthal, the legendary "guru of ganjah" author of numerous grow books and the famous "Ask Ed" cannabis garden answer man column, has put himself up as the sacrificial lamb to test the conflict over Prop 215. Whether you agree with his approach or not, he has literally placed his life on the line -- he's facing a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for doing what was legally allowed under California state law. His fame or infamy as a marijuana advocate should be drawing massive publicity. It is a test of whether the citizens who legalized medical marijuana as voters will send Ed to prison for providing plants to patients. We don't need another martyr, we need a court victory.I think it is important for ARO to show its support. There is a backlog of cases that are coming down the pike, so any contributions would be helpful. Go to to see how you can support Ed and the coming court cases. At a minimum, send an email of support to info Add a link to your website. Show your outrage with letters to the editor. Call your representatives to support Barney Frank's bill, which might have avoided this situation entirely. This is not just about Ed Rosenthal, it's about how much we can support one another, what the feds can get away with, and how much outrage we can muster against them. The DEA/ DOJ is using the courts to attack democracy, science, patients -- even the jury system as a reflection of community values and the spirit of the law.Most of Ed's most promising issues have been preserved for an appeal, because the judge, rightly or wrongly, has excluded almost all his legal and moral arguments from ever being heard by the jury. The juror interview process was designed to eliminate anyone who might sympathize with Ed's cause, but in the process all the jurors heard that they medical marijuana was something they should ignore, state law was something they should ignore, publicity is something they should ignore, etc., which in effect told them this is a high profile medical marijuana law that tests how juries will enforce federal law and how criminal defense attorneys will fight it.I'm not suggesting anything that could be misconstrued as an attempt to undermine the process of the courts, which I respect. It is the DEA and the federal legislature with whom I am disgusted. What I am suggesting is that this moment for publicity is both crucial and fleeting. We should have the public talking about Ed's case, which has already commenced.Wouldn't you want somebody to do it for you?-- Chris Conrad - chris - 510-215-8326
Americans for Safe Access 
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 16, 2003 at 10:44:37 PT
Important E-Mail News Update
Ed Rosenthal Trial Update for Wednesday, Jan 15th
 Jury Seated in Federal Medical Marijuana Trial of Ed Rosenthal Proceedings begin Tuesday, January 21st in U.S. District CourtThe jury was finally selected today in the federal marijuana-cultivation trial of best-selling author and activist Ed Rosenthal. It took an unprecedented two days -- the first of which saw half the prospective jurors excused because of their strong feelings about the legalization of Marijuana, their experiences with its medical use, or their frustration with federal interference in state laws -- but twelve jurors and two alternates were empaneled by Federal District Court Judge Charles Breyer to begin hearing the case next Tuesday, January 21st, following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.Prospective jurors were again questioned about their feelings and beliefs related to marijuana, and the court was again filled with poignant stories of family members who had sought relief from the symptoms of HIV or cancer through the use of medical marijuana. Potential jurors also took the opportunity to denounce the federal laws on marijuana as "grotesque," to question the imposition of jail time for marijuana offences, and to suggest that the medicinal use of marijuana was a matter for science not the courts.Even Judge Breyer acknowledged that the cultivation of marijuana for use by patients may be the "noble" thing to do, the "humane" and right thing. But he repeatedly reminded the prospective jurors that he would be instructing them that marijuana cultivation was a federal crime no matter what the purpose, and to sit on the jury they had to be willing to set aside their conclusions or beliefs and follow his instructions, even if they believed he was wrong about the law, or the law itself was unjust.Many of those called declined to be bound by such instructions, but, ultimately, 14 people agreed. Expected to last two weeks, trial commences Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 8:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, Courtroom of Justice Charles Breyer, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, California.FOR MORE INFORMATION: Updates and background information on Ed Rosenthal's case are available on the web at: or http://www.safeaccessnow.orgDale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // canorml igc.org2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on January 16, 2003 at 10:38:45 PT
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 16, 2003 at 10:25:35 PT
Ed is being manipulated in court
by a prohibitionists government. Ed, is being kept from telling His side of the story! 
In a truely fair society, Ed should be allowed to tell his story to the jury.Instead, the judge, informs Ed, He will not be able to support Himself in court.Ed deserves the full protection of Christ God Our Father.What can We do, using peaceful means, to protect Us from evil?Pray that someone on that jury takes a step back! We are allowed to change Our minds.  
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